A Travellerspoint blog

December 2007

Top 10 strangest things about Central/South American

Not for the faint of heart or the faint of Butt

1. Being asked if you would like some "really good pot" 15 times, on 15 different occasions by the same guy. Least dissurbing of which is that of those 15 times he recognized me not once.

2. On the roads instead of hitting deer or running over smaller furry creatures like racoons, rabitts, or squirrels, You run over 25 pound Iguanas that vibrate and shake afterward.

3. Before you check into a Hotel you adamantly insist that you first see and inspect the prospective room to ensure that it is fit for Human habitation. You interpret cockroaches as a good sign, cause hey .....if they can live here...

4. You have booked a tour and are picked up at around 7;00am...... or 8. You get in to a full 12 passenger Van. You proceed to collect another 9 people and the occupants are making wagers weather this is the last one or not upping bets with each new guest. You head to the tour with at least 23 people. The driver caries a shotgun.

5. Before entering a shoe store you are met by 2 armed guards. Both are carrying what I assume are loaded shot guns. This is a ¨SHOE¨ store... Not jeweled shoes store, or gold shoes... just rubber..shoes... I ask myself ..if the shoe store neeeds armed guards, then why don´t I have armed guards??? ¨*Quiver*¨

6. Meat is left to hang in the sun and open air for most of the day at the market. I´m talking entire rear quarter. or a whole side, or just a huge dangaling chunk. In their homes most people don´t have a refigerator, ......Why isn´t everyone dead??...I eat meat I amagine was processed in the same fasion...Why aren´t I dead? In Canada do we have a huge misunderstanding as to the limits of fresh meat?

7. In ALL of Central/South America you are not allowed/supposed to flush toilet paper down the toilet. There is a little garbage can specifically for this item. Dropping said item after it is used is a very hard habit to break. There are signs in all gringo washrooms reminding you that if you don´t follow the rules the toilet will back-up. And they do!

8. Speaking of Toilet paper...In all Public washrooms you either have to pay to go in and use the facilities, or you have to pay for a wad of toilet paper at the door, Usually both. In non public bathrooms there simply isn´t any. We stopped trying our luck and carry some with us always.

9. After eating a meal you set your watch, if nothing happens within 2 to 4 hours you are safe to proceed to the next meal.

10. In the markets you can get a special price. A price just for you. A special price for you. And of course it is their work, their job, hand made by their infant son. It is a guiness work of art inspired by the Virgin Mary and blessed by the Pope himself. With a special price,....I give you special price. 400 merchants...all with special prices.
Ps. Special price means....You are a gringo idiot who will pay whatever special price that pops into my head based on what you look and smell like. But mostly cause you are white and I don´t think you speak spanish to argue with me.

Posted by Seaurchins 11:42 Comments (4)

Bolivia...... to Madrid

What a crazy world we live in

Merry Christmas,

This may be the last time that we get chance to write before we leave for Africa for Christmas, so we might as well wish everyone a great holiday. Hopefully all of you have a couple days off and someone great to spend them with.

Our time in Bolivia has been short but throughly enjoyable. We stayed in a hostel that had once been a mansion... complete with high ceilings and chandeliers. We also biked the world´s most dangerous road, a 64km mostly downhill adventure through some of the most beautiful scenery. Every corner ended with a cliff that dropped thousands of feet, and everywhere you looked there were waterfalls. The crazy thing is that when we started we were in the mountains surrounded by llamas and snow and when we finished 4 hours later, we were in a lush tropical valley. We were both filthy by the end but it was a blast.

We had the most difficult time flying out of the airport in La Paz, due to the fact that our tickets had been stolen and we couldn´t buy new ones because the airport didn´t accept travellers checks... which was the only form of currency that we had. Nathaniel took a taxi from the airport to find a bank that would change our checks into cash and was not successful. He tried over five banks and not one could help him. Our third day at the airport we finally caught a flight out to Lima and then were able to buy new tickets to Madrid. We have been in Madrid now for a little over a day now and we have already managed to sort out the metro system, which Nathaniel loves, picked up our permanent passports from the Canadian consulate here and have gotten visas for Kenya, Africa. Hopefullly we will get to do a bit more sightseeing tommorow. It is very lovely and clean here but it also very cold. We have been travelling in fairly warm climates up to now and we don´t have much warm clothing. In fact we are wearing nearly everything that we brought. I feel like a fashion disaster. Almost every second woman I see is wearing a fur coat or carrying a prada purse. It´s craziness to go from seeing toddlers begging on the streets to poodles in custom made rain jackets. What a crazy world we live in.

The Christmas decorations in Madrid are beautiful and for the first time, it feels like the Christmas season. Today we went to the groccery store and loaded up on all our favorite foods... lindt chocolate, cheese, fresh bread, oranges... and we had a feast in our tiny european hostel room... while we watched TV in spanish. Simple pleasures.

Much love Jocelyn and Nathaniel

Soon we will be in Kenya and cold will only be a memory.

Posted by Seaurchins 10:57 Comments (1)

Lovely, Expensive Peru, utter poverty

-17 °C

Scroll down a bit. we cut and paste pics from facebook from now on and they are bigger than The travellerspoint screen. K

Today we visited our foster child in his village outside Cuzco. We have been looking forward to our visit for some time and we are glad it finally worked out. We got to meet Gustavo and his family. We brought him a soccer ball and some chalk and his somber little face lit up like Christmas. We visited Gustavos village and all the children had prepared songs and very passionate speeches in Quichia (the native tongue of the Andean highland people). It´s really cool to see what World Vision has been able to do in the villages around Cuzco. The families in the highland are so poor and can scarcely afford to buy food let alone things like school supplies. All the children´s faces are wind burnt and their hands and feet look like elephant skin. We were told that many children die each year from pneumonia because parents cannot afford medical attention. Believe it or not, its quite cold here and I have been wearing a toque and gloves for a couple weeks. Joce

Right now we are working on getting replacement tickets from La Paz Bolivia ...where we are now... to Lima Peru and on to Madrid Spain. So ya. but other that that everything is cool ... So ya like Jocelyn said 2 days ago we visited our World Vision foster child in Peru! His name is Gustovo, and we have been supporting him for around 2 years. We got to meet his whole family and visit his school and community...I tell you what.. I'm a skeptical guy, but the difference that World Vision makes in that community is overwhelming, ...and at the same time sooo much more could be done. They really do seek out the poorest communities and through the sponsored children are able to improve the whole community in real and visible ways. Prior to world vision, many communities only grew potatoes and raised Alpaca, which did not provide the community with enough nutrition. Now that World Vision is involved they have taught them how to grow a variety of vegetables and also how to raise Guinea pigs. Apparently guinea pig is full of vitamins and healthy fats (just like squirell) that the highland people need. The other day I ordered one for dinner in a restaurant and it's really good - kinda tastes like beaver. A bit weird though cause they serve it up with feet and head attached, big guinea smile included, teeth bared and everything. Jocelyn didn't want one but i made her try at least a bite, she had Alpaca steak instead. Also another thing about world vision............ in Canada they keep the fact that they are a Christian Organization a little hush hush. But when we were there they were telling us that one of their main goals is to share the cross with these people and show them the love of God. Anyway .. here I am going on like a televised Ethiopian heart throb commercial. ..... bless you and say hi to the gang for me ... Nate


Yesterday we went to Macchu Piccu to see the famed ruins. It was extremely expensive to get there (by budget traveling standards) but the scenery was stunning and I felt rather emotional upon reaching the summit. I have always dreamed of traveling and reaching that summit felt monumental.

So right...you know how in the movie the Emperors new Grove, they show Cuzco as this town with really steep mountains everywhere? Ya, well not soo much. That movie was really misleading. it got my expectations up and stuff. The real Cuzco is nothing like the movie. Once again Disney is a bunch of liars. The movie would be more like Machu Pichu, that place is really hilly. Like straight up cones jutting out everywhere that are 1000 feet tall...well they look like they are 1000 feet tall. Although Cuzco is really high, and anytime you walk anywhere you find you are winded and out of breath all the time even though you are just walking. Anyway. While we were in Cuzco, we were shopping around in the streets looking at all the little shops. I left Jocelyn talking to a painter and stepped into a shop and 2 minutes later i hear a commotion and look out the door of the shop and Jocelyn is half sitting/fallen on the ground and she looked dazed and confused and she was surrounded by people. It looked to me like someone had just hit/mugged her. I swear I have never been so close to swinging knock-out shots at the nearest random people. I ran out of the shop yelling "HEY" "WHAT THE" . People just scattered. I got beside Jocelyn right away and didn't see anyone running with her stuff and so now I'm confused and trying to ask her what just happened. Well apparently, She was standing there and was trying to be polite cause the painter guy was talking to her, but she felt woozy and needed to sit down. But that would be impolite, and if Jocelyn is anything she is not impolite. So she waited too long and just fainted and fell over, taking the guys paintings with her. So needless to say I had quite the fright and Jocelyn had quite the embarrassment. She thinks that it had just been a really long bus ride the night before with not much sleep and we had just checked into our hotel and were on the way to a late brunch, and the altitude, and well just alot of things together. So ya. Sound like fun? Not so much. Memories none the less.

Love Nate and Joce

Posted by Seaurchins 16:32 Archived in Peru Comments (2)

Killing time in Quito



Well we officially have new passports.. temporary ones, but passports nevertheless. We get our normal passports in Madrid, Spain. How exotic. We have been in Quito for just over five days and we are both itching to get out of the city. Dispite the belching public trasport and the hordes of people, our time here has been quite productive. Lets see, we went to a bullfight...a real one where at least six bulls died and two madadors got gored. It was not my cup of tea, considering I can´t even kill a bug, but it was a cultural experiemce. I´ll let Nathaniel write more on the subject as he probaly enjoyed it more than I did. We hiked to an elavation of 4,700 meters..... seriously high and definatly the toughest hike we have ever done. We could barely put one foot ahead of the other by the time we reached the summit. The air was thinner up there and it messed with our heads and our ability to breath properly.

We explored some gothic churches and one that was inlaid with over seven tons of gold..... it was overwelming. Unfortunatly we were not allowed to take pictures in there... we proably would have blinded ourselves anyway! Let´s see what else... we got to expereince "Quito Days" - a week long party that started three days ago and will continue for another week. There are concerts in every main square, bizarre buses with bands on the roof that drive around town and music and partying from the afternoon into the wee hours of the night. It´s very festive! Well we are off the catch a flight to Lima, Peru now. We hope that we will not run into any trouble at the airport with regards to our stolen e-tickets.

- Jocelyn and Nathaniel

Posted by Seaurchins 11:08 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

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